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Item 4141 - Bell Labs Vanguard Satellite Model Catalog 538 (Oct 2018)

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(we are no longer accepting bids on this item)
Estimate: $8,000.00 +
Sold Price: $10,247.13 (includes buyer's premium)


Rare vintage model of an exact scale Vanguard 1 solar-powered satellite. The aluminum sphere measures 6.25″ in diameter and features five solar cells and includes six attachable 12″ antennas. The model measures approximately 21.25″ tall and extends to nearly 29″ in height with inserted antenna. The pole at the base of the sphere can be inserted into a fully functional 7 x 2.25 x 7 mechanical presentation box, which when plugged in will spin the satellite in impressive fashion. The model also transmits a high-pitched sound when activated by light via the solar cells, controlled by an on-off toggle switch inside the body. Also included is a circular presentation light with working 40-watt bulb. The Vanguard comes with its original wooden 21 x 8.75 x 12 storage box, with front marked in white letters: “Satellite.” In very good to fine condition, with expected wear from use and storage.

Accompanied by a letter of provenance from the original owner, in part: “The Bell Telephone Company asked me to make a couple ½ scale models of their new Telstar Satellite then they asked me to make one with Solar Cells that transmitted sound. They gave me this Vanguard Satellite to remove and use its Solar Cells. I did not want to destroy the Vanguard so I purchased Solar Cells from a company in El Segundo, California and made a working Telstar model for them. I often share my Vanguard with my students explaining the fantastic developments in today’s communication Satellites.”

The fourth artificial Earth orbital satellite launched—following Sputnik 1 and 2 and Explorer 1—the miniature Vanguard was the first solar-powered satellite and was described by then-Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev as 'the grapefruit satellite.' As part of Project Vanguard, the satellite was designed to test the launch capabilities of a three-stage launch vehicle, the effects of the environment on a satellite and its systems in Earth orbit, and to obtain geodetic measurements through orbit analysis. Although communication with it was lost in 1964, the Vanguard remains the oldest manmade satellite still in orbit. An immensely appealing educational model relating to the exciting early days of space travel.

Due to the size, weight, and/or fragile nature of this item, we ask that you call RR Auction for a shipping quote.

Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.


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